TagHR reputation

HR in Formation

I’ve never been a big Beyonce fan. I’ve written about it on this blog before … But her talent and influence are undeniable.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last 2 weeks, you know Beyonce released a controversial new song and video on February 6th. Then she performed the same new controversial song during the Super Bowl on February 7th while wearing equally controversial costumes.

The title of the song is Formation.

The lyrics of the song are no less racy than most of Beyonce’s recent work. She’s not singing for kids anymore. She’s singing sho-nuff grown folk lyrics … and even I’m not grown enough to sing some of those words in front of my momma.  If anyone’s been really paying attention to her words, this song shouldn’t be too surprising.

The visual imagery in the video and during her Super Bowl performance are a big departure for her. The visuals are in-your-face pro-Black. She’s calling out police brutality and injustice. She’s celebrating her culture and history. She’s boldly declaring where she stands on the #BlackLivesMatter support spectrum.

Or is she?

Almost immediately, there were people who said the visual imagery wasn’t enough. That when you combine the lyrics with the imagery, it was just more of the same … And I agreed with them. The mismatch of the images and the words left me confused about her real intent. I needed to figure it out. I needed to know if the biggest superstar in the world was using her platform to make a bold socio-political statement… or nah.

I still don’t know the answer. And in typical fashion, Beyonce isn’t outright saying. I’ve given up trying to figure it out.

What I learned through my brief obsession with this topic is that Beyonce has been publicly and privately supporting many of the causes focused on helping disenfranchised people of color for many years. I also learned that the writer of this new controversial song is very young and unknown, which is impressive and telling considering Beyonce could work with anyone she wanted.

So what else does she need to say? She’s making her position clear through her actions and her financial support … I’d really love for her to come right out and say these things. However, with so much backlash over the video and performance, I can only imagine what would happen if she did. I can understand why she would keep her statements brief in order to maintain the money that allows her to do all these other things.

In my typical fashion, I started thinking about the practical management lessons in this situation.

The lesson is simple … As leaders, it is time to get in Formation.

It is time to use our influence to send clear messages about the things that are important. It is time to use our resources to support the things that are important. It is time to actively create opportunities for people who wouldn’t otherwise get them without our help.

I’m not talking about throwing all caution to the wind to promote purely personal agendas … I’m talking about holding our organizations accountable for and moving them toward walking the talk on the issues they say they care about.

  • Get in Formation on fair, competitive compensation … Make the updates and changes necessary on your pay plans to position your organization to attract, retain and demonstrate the value placed on talent.
  • Get in Formation on comprehensive, affordable benefits … Find an ACA compliant plan that provides complete coverage and doesn’t put you employees at risk of hardship.
  • Get in Formation on a path to promotion with commitment to development …  Seek to help your employees to learn and improve so they can move up in the organization and broaden their influence.
  • Get in Formation on diversity and inclusion … Hire deliberately to make your organization a reflection of the world at large so you are in the best position possible to compete nationally and globally.

No more speaking about it. It’s time for our words to stop and actions to speak.

It’s time to get in Formation. And slay … Slay like Beyonce, right where you are.

The 5 Phrases That Are Hurting Your Reputation

On average, we deal with over 100 email messages in our inbox every day. More and more, we rely on our emails to document and track communication between us and the people we work with and for. Knowing this, sometimes, we go too far or not far enough in choosing our words.

Here are the 5 phrases you’re using that’s hurting your reputation:

  1. “As You Know” … If I know, it comes across snide and condescending. If I don’t know, it comes across judgmental and rude.
  2. “Thanks, but” … This phrase is usually followed by something that negates any gratitude. If you really were thankful, it doesn’t look like it.
  3. “… and so on and so forth” … No one knows what this really means. It always comes across presumptive and dismissive. Arguably inarticulate and lazy.
  4. “If you would be so kind as to” … This paints me into a no-win corner where either I have to do what, when and how you ask or be a jerkface. It’s polite bullying.
  5. “If I don’t hear back from you, I will assume” … This is demanding and slightly menacing.

Everyone sets out to be seen as a supportive, helpful professional at work. At times, we fall short of this at times in moments of frustration, stress or weakness. No one is perfect; it is understandable.

This should be the exception in your communication, though, not the rule. If you’re regularly using these kinds of phrases, it’s time to make a change. Skip the passive-aggressive lead-ins and lead-ons — and just get to the point of what you want to say candidly, directly and tactfully.

  • Instead of saying “As you know”, try “I am writing about the issue with X” instead. This approach is direct and unassuming. If you’re really not sure if the person knows about it, give a brief synopsis of the issue before moving into your questions or requests.
  • Instead of “Thanks, but”, try “Thank you!” followed by a brand new sentence or paragraph about whatever additional thing is needed. This will not overshadow or erase your gratitude … Unless you’re really not thankful. If you’re not, don’t say “thanks” at all. No one like gratuitous gratitude.
  • Instead of “and so on and so forth”, try a brief explanation of what the so on and so forth is. Never assume the reader has all the same knowledge that you have. Use your message share information.
  • Instead of “if you would be so kind”, just state what you need. And why.
  • Instead of “if I don’t hear from you, I will assume”, just state the deadline for a response. And why. If the deadline is a short one, you may even want to pick up that old 19th century device called a telephone to let the person know that you sent an urgent email.

Because we send email to communicate, discuss, resolve and document the things that occur in our workplaces. If the communication isn’t clear, it will lead to unnecessary complications and confusion — and, if it comes down to it, will not withstand legal scrutiny.

Clear. Concise. Candid. Always in all ways.

Are there more passive-aggressive email phrases you’d like to see on this list? Tell me about it!

From PIC — “HR is Headed for Self-Destruction”

One of my favorite old skool hip-hop songs is “Self Destruction.” After 20 years, I still know over 90% of the lyrics. It is one of a few old skool jams that causes me to stop whatever I’m doing and lose myself in words and nostalgia for a few minutes whenever I hear it.

It isn’t lost on me that the lyrics are still very much relevant and applicable today — but I don’t want to talk about that stuff here. This isn’t the place for it. This is a blog about HR leading organizations to high levels of performance. And although pop culture and politics trickle into the conversation, we always have to bring it back to the practical application of business theory and operations. Otherwise, we’re just more rhetoric and a symptom of the problem.

I digress.

The song popped into my head recently as I was planning an exercise with my HR team about the connectedness of our functions. This is the first time I’ve worked somewhere with departments within the HR department, where everyone had a specialty and there were no generalists. And the in-fighting between the groups is something to behold! I thought only practitioners and consultants had ‘beef’ (see Notorious B.I.G for definition). Now I’m learning HR specialties fight with each other over who is the most important, who deserves the most accolades, attention and budget resources.

I found myself looking to these lyrics for explanation and inspiration …

Read the rest of this post over at Performance I Create ….

What is HR Thirsty For?

I attended a HR luncheon not too long ago. I arrived early and found no one there I knew. Instead of going into introvert mode, I decided to sit down at a table, join the conversation and try to make some new connections. Here’s what I walked in on …

“It’s been over a year of the same thing now. I keep telling them what they need to do to make things better around here. They don’t want to listen to me. I don’t feel like they value my input at all.”

“I totally understand what you mean. It’s the same at my job. I’m not even invited to their meetings anymore. They can’t handle the truth about what needs to happen to fix the mess they’ve made.”

I just sat there, feeling out of place and uncomfortable and praying they wouldn’t ask me to join the conversation.

They didn’t. And they didn’t introduce themselves either. They just kept talking about how horrible it was their companies wouldn’t give HR the attention and opportunity it deserved.

One might say they sounded really … thirsty!!

Yep. I’m using urban slang to describe a HR phenomenon. Again …Don’t judge. Keep reading.

The urban dictionary defines thirsty as “eager to get attention; to crave spotlight; desperate to be chosen”

Sound familiar? It should … In many organizations, HR feels unheard, undervalued and marginalized in their role. Like the people at that luncheon table, lots of HR professionals go to work every day seeking the attention of senior management, the spotlight of business and are desperate to be chosen to lead organizational change.

I’m not going to go into the reasons why HR should be involved in the strategic planning of business. It is well documented that organizations who utilize HR in a strategic capacity are more financially successful and maintain a more positive reputation and healthier working environment than those who marginalize HR to traditional, administrative functions.

What I am going to go into is what HR should stop doing that makes them look thirsty.

  • Stop openly criticizing the decision-makers … Just because you aren’t part of the discussions doesn’t mean you get to nit-pick all the ideas and efforts. Give the benefit of the doubt, even if the analysis missed some stuff. Besides, it only leads to you being more left out of the team.
  • Stop threatening litigation … Telling the organization not to do something that’s good for progress because there’s an off-chance they might get sued is not helpful. Mitigating and defending the company’s decisions is part of your job — so do it! Besides, it only makes it look like you’re afraid to fight.
  • Stop saying people are going to be unhappy and quit … Turnover is necessary and not always a bad thing. There’s a huge difference between normal and the truly negative trends. Make sure you know and speak about the difference. Besides, it only makes it look like you’re the one who is unhappy.

Instead, try doing more of the stuff like this:

Start showing enthusiasm for proposed changes. Be excited for the opportunity that a new project brings and seek partnerships across functions and departments to make it successful.

Start proposing the changes you want to see. Not suggesting or guilting or badgering — but legitimately proposing. Provide full, comprehensive analysis and recommendations for the improvements you believe in.

HR must open its mouth to say something other than “no” and “that won’t work’. We must talk about what’s possible and how we are going to get it done.

Because, while HR is often waiting on the organization to listen, the organization is waiting on HR to talk … Holla back!


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